July 7th was International Chocolate Day. Now that’s a holiday I can relate to. In honour of the day, this week’s post is about chocolate.
Whenever someone says chocolate, a voice inside me says:
“I never met a chocolate I didn’t like.”.
Some of you will recognise the quote by Deanna Troi of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the same episode, The Game (1991), she said “Chocolate is a serious thing.” Deanna knew the score.
Chocoalte cake is a favourite of Police Surgeon and detectiving cohort , Henry Collins, from my series The Adventures of Viola Stewart. I prefer dark chocolate (preferably at least 85% and Fair Trade).
And perhaps this isn’t such a bad thing. And to prove it, here’s some sciencey stuff.
The Science of Chocolate
Even science admits chocolate has health benefits. Though you need to consume dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. It’s the cocoa that’s good for you, not the sugar. Cocoa has been linked to:
- improved mood (causes release of serotonin and endorphins – the feelgood hormones),
- boosts cognitive performance (so do red wine and tea)
- lowering blood pressure (due to flavanols),
- preventing liver disease (due to improved blood flow),
- boosting good cholesterol (due to polyphenols found in dark chocolate),
- maintaining healthy vascular tone (lowering BP, opening vessels and antioxidants that reduce inflammation)
- even improves the skin!
Bitter is better – containing more of the beneficial chemicals and less sugar (which is not beneficial).
I’m still searching for a Ktarian chocolate puff, Deanna’s favourite:
“I don’t know exactly what’s inside, but I think it’s made with seventeen varieties of chocolate.”
– Deanna Troi., Star Trek: The Next Generation: Liaisons (1993)
Bibliography – The Researchy Stuff:
- 10 reasons why chocolate is good for you
- Acute dark chocolate and cocoa ingestion and endothelial function: a randomized controlled crossover trial http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/88/1/58.abstract
- Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates http://www.biostat.jhsph.edu/courses/bio621/misc/Chocolate%20consumption%20cognitive%20function%20and%20nobel%20laurates%20(NEJM).pdf
Cocoa, chocolate and cardiovascular Disease. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797556/
Cocoa flavanol consumption improves cognitive function, blood pressure control, and metabolic profile in elderly subjects: the Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) Study—a randomized controlled trial. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4340060/
- Dark Chocolate and Cocoa May Reduce Blood Pressure
- Dark chocolate consumption increases HDL cholesterol concentration and chocolate fatty acids may inhibit lipid peroxidation in healthy Humans.
- Effect of cocoa on blood pressure. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22895979
- Long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa provides photoprotection against UV-induced erythema and improves skin condition in women.
- Postprandial effects of dark chocolate on portal hypertension in patients with cirrhosis: results of a phase 2, double-blind, randomized controlled trial. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22811444
Potential benefit of dark chocolate for liver disease patients
- Regular consumption of dark chocolate is associated with low serum concentrations of C-reactive protein in a healthy Italian population.
The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance
Why Is Dark Chocolate Good for You? Thank Your Microbes
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